IGLHRC Celebrates Historic UN Panel about Ending Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

For Immediate Release

March 7, 2012

Media Contact:

Roberta Sklar, IGLHRC

+1-917-704-6358; rsklar@iglhrc.org

Statement from Jessica Stern, Director of Programs, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission:

“Today’s panel, ‘Ending Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,’ is a tribute to all of the activists who have fought for recognition of homophobic violence and transphobic discrimination over decades, often in the face of extreme hostility. It demonstrates that while full equality has not yet been adequately achieved, at the UN and in cities and towns around the world, there is a growing commitment to the true universality of human rights.”

“On a day we celebrate, we also recognize that some have questioned whether a panel condemning LGBT rights violations defies tradition, culture and belief. Others asked whether sexual orientation and gender identity are exclusively Western concepts. Some have even posited that violence and discrimination are suitable punishments for homosexuality and gender non-conformity. To these questions, we respond: human rights and violence are fundamentally incompatible, and wherever these violations are found, they must be addressed.”

(Geneva, March 07, 2012) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today joined human rights advocates from around the world for the first-ever official inter-governmental panel at the United Nations (UN) focused on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The panel was established by resolution 17/19, which passed on June 17, 2011 and also mandated the first-ever UN report dedicated to the subject, titled, “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, A.HRC.19.41.” The panel discussion, featuring UN officials, government representatives, and human rights defenders, will be informed by the report.

The historic report documents widespread discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide and calls upon States to apply the international legal framework to end these human rights violations. Among the report’s most important recommendations is its call for the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct, the enactment of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the legal recognition of the self-identified gender of transgender persons. The report notes the particular experiences of lesbians and other women who suffer violence, killings, rape and abuse, often at the hands of family and community.

For further comment or interview with International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission spokespeople contact:
Roberta Sklar(+01-917-704-6358) rsklar@iglhrc.org
Jessica Stern
(Geneva) +1 917 355 3262; jstern@iglhrc.org.

The report, available in translation may be found by visiting the 19th session of the Human Rights Council: Reports page and referencing report A/HRC/19/41.

Additional Background

  • Human Rights Council Resolution 17/19 expressed grave concern with acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights prepare a report on the same topic. The resolution, which was presented by South Africa, received support from a majority of the members of the Human Rights Council. For a description of the vote and reactions from civil society at the time of this historic resolution, please see: http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/1417.html.
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world's commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. It has a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations. She heads OHCHR and spearheads the United Nations' human rights efforts. The report is available in all of the official UN languages and is available in those languages at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-41_en.pdf. For reactions from IGLHRC staff around the world to the release of the report, please see: http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/1469.html.

international human rights organization dedicated to improving the lives of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We are dedicated to strengthening the capacity of the LGBT human rights movement worldwide to conduct documentation of LGBT human rights violations and by engaging in human rights advocacy with partners around the globe. We work with the United Nations, regional human rights monitoring bodies and civil society partners. IGLHRC holds consultative status at the United Nations as a recognized non-governmental organization representing the concerns and human rights of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people worldwide.